Nolan’s ‘Best Actor’ of Choice Lost The Dark Knight Role to Bale for One Reason Only

Nolan’s ‘Best Actor’ of Choice Lost The Dark Knight Role to Bale for One Reason Only
Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures, Legion-Media

Christopher Nolan’s favorite actor only had a minor role in the Dark Knight trilogy, despite trying for Batman first: Christian Bale had one major advantage over him.


  • Cillian Murphy is one of Christopher Nolan ’s favorite stars who he named “the best actor of his generation.”
  • Despite that, Nolan rejected Murphy for the part of Batman in the Dark Knight movies and chose Christian Bale.
  • According to the director, Murphy didn’t manifest the raw physical menace Bale had already mastered by then.

Anyone who’s watched at least a few Christopher Nolan movies knows the director likes to stick with his favorite actors. Cillian Murphy, Nolan’s best actor of choice, has starred in six Nolan films so far — half of the director’s works — but only finally got a lead role in last year’s Oppenheimer.

Before that, despite being in a great relationship with the director, Murphy had to stick with supporting roles in his movies.

Murphy Couldn’t Land a Lead Role with Nolan

Cillian Murphy and Christopher Nolan’s friendship and mutual respect might have manifested into several movies, but despite personal feelings toward the actor, the director didn’t cast him in a lead role for years. In five Nolan movies, Murphy only had supporting or even minor roles, restricting his acting potential significantly.

Nolan’s ‘Best Actor’ of Choice Lost The Dark Knight Role to Bale for One Reason Only - image 1

Murphy starred in all three Dark Knight movies, too; he portrayed Dr. Crane aka Scarecrow, a background villain that was somehow involved in every major threat to Gotham. Before that, however, the Oppenheimer star tried for the lead part of Bruce Wayne — and director Nolan had to reject his candidacy for one simple reason.

Murphy Lost the Batman Audition Battle to Bale

The auditioning for Bruce Wayne didn’t go Cillian Murphy’s way: while he was good, Christian Bale easily beat him to the part. Director Nolan recently explained what one major difference between the actors made picking Bale a no-brainer in his book.

“I don’t think [Cillian] had the physicality at the time. <...> Christian had this crazy energy that he just directed. He’d figured out how that worked and what that would be — the way Bruce Wayne does in the film. He adopts this persona. It’s a very specific thing. And he tore a hole on the screen as Batman,” Nolan explained to Deadline.

The director admitted, however, that Cillian Murphy proved he was capable of being physically imposing with his iconic Peaky Blinders role as Tommy Shelby. Murphy himself, however, supported Nolan’s past decision against him and claimed that “the Scarecrow was the right part for him to be in at that time in his career.”

And let’s be real: if he really wanted to be Bruce Wayne, Cillian Murphy was likely about one SMS self-promo text away from convincing Nolan to give him a chance.

Source: Deadline